When last we left, Eno was trying to kill Evangeline when she stopped to talk to Verlaine, and Bruno saw the two angels duking it out and pursued because he’s got a creepy obsession with Eno for no reason. And now we come back to Verlaine doing… parkour?

Verlaine climbed onto the ledge of a window, grasped the iron bars of the balcony, and, swinging his legs to gain momentum, pulled himself up toward the rooftop, the soles of his wing tips slipping as he climbed.

Still, he’s not as good as the Parkour Master:

I mean, he invented freaking Spider-Man.

But honestly, it’s more climbing than just parkour. There’s not a lot of indication that he’s doing it particularly quickly. No rush man; an assassin is just trying to eviscerate the woman who you’ve been calling your Tru Luv and all. I get it, though. A guy in his thirties or so that’s climbing up buildings in Paris? If he’s in good shape, I might buy that he’s able to do it, but not too quickly, given that he’s never been shown to be especially athletic or anything—

His body was lean, his muscles tight and long, his endurance high. He would be forty-three years old in less than a week and he was in the best condition of his life, able to run for miles without breaking a sweat.

Uh… what?

Look, first off: he’s in his forties? Really? A middle-aged man is still in love with a woman he knew for a single night ten years ago? Um… okay then.

Perhaps I just missed it in the last book, but I assumed that Verlaine was in his twenties or so then. It mentioned a bit about his college life, so I guessed he was fresh out of college. But forty?? There’s nothing wrong with a middle-aged protagonist, but it’s a tad strange when I had no idea that he was anywhere near middle-aged until you throw it in my face like that.

Second: someone, correct me if I’m wrong, but is it normal for a vanilla human, age forty-two, to be “able to run for miles without breaking a sweat?” It doesn’t sound normal to me, considering he wasn’t much of an athlete (that I could tell) when we saw him ten years ago. I guess in ten years you can improve your physical abilities, but would it really be that much?

So Verlaine, on mirakuru or something, sees Eno flying right by him after Evangeline. The two angels land and face-off.

There was no doubt in Verlaine’s mind that the Emim was an exceptionally powerful angel.

Oh my God, Trussoni; for once in this book can you show me a character trait instead of telling me? If you want to have Verlaine telling the reader that Eno’s dangerous, how about he observes her doing something dangerous? Like killing someone who gets in her way on her chase, or firing a gun in mid-air, not caring if civilians accidentally get killed? No? Okay.

Because you know what we get instead? Right after that sentence, we get a description of how beautiful Eno is. No really.

As he examined the creature’s bone structure and facial features he saw that everything—her large, alien eyes and sinuous body—coalesced to form a strange and inhuman beauty. One rarely came across such a striking Emim. He took a deep breath and wondered what kind of god would fashion such a seductive and evil being.

…you know, in a Judeo-Christian fantasy setting, you’d think the word ‘God’ would be capitalized. Because what other deity would he possibly be referring to in this context?

Can we stop obsessing over how beautiful Eno is? Never mind that the above description makes her sound more like a grey alien than an angel, let’s just move past it—I don’t need everyone constantly telling me how hot she is. It’s annoying.

Also! Verlaine, man, this is your job. If you’re such a badass angel hunter, why is the sight of Eno so mind-boggling?

Verlaine heard something behind him and turned to see Bruno emerge from a balcony just below. He knew that he should have called for assistance right away, that following Evangeline without backup went against all that he’d been trained to do, but Verlaine hadn’t even thought to alert Bruno.

That’s right! At no point in this chase did he stop and think, “Hey, maybe I should consider getting backup for apprehending an angelic assassin.” And I wouldn’t know if it’s what you’re trained to do, considering Bruno didn’t start looking for you until long after you walked off.

I don’t know what else to say.

“Going solo against a creature like Eno is suicide,” Bruno said, gasping for breath as he pulled himself over the ledge. “Believe me, I’ve been there.”

Ah, so it’s suicide. Tell me then, if you’ve been there, how you’re still alive?

And don’t bother helping him in this dangerous climb, Verlaine. Just let him pull himself up a building all by himself. For reasons.

Instead of showing us that Bruno’s clearly got a thing for Eno, the narration just tells us that Verlaine notices Bruno’s stance and how there’s clearly some reaction to the Emim. Why this doesn’t shine through in the dialogue? I don’t know, but I suspect laziness.

Evangeline and Eno circle each other dramatically and show off their wings in a display for dominance. I’m still unsure of how the wings work, because Verlaine gives us this tidbit:

…he knew that if he were to touch them, his hand would pass through as if skimming through a projection of light.

That… makes no sense. Because last book explicitly told us that angels’ wings were their weakest points. You rip off an angel’s wing, it bleeds to death. Trussoni, you told us that. It was one of the most interesting scenes in the last book. Now you’re saying their wings are intangible?

Okay, okay, I’ll try to ease up on the images…

Bruno and Verlaine watch the duel about to unfold, and Bruno explains what’s what to Verlaine (and the audience), and both are not thinking of, oh, I don’t know, interfering or helping. I’m baffled as to why this was included, this dueling exposition, because angel duels aren’t things that happen in the book. You’d think that this book would end with a climatic duel between angels, but it doesn’t—there’s just one duel here and that’s it. Which is a shame, because this book could really do with awesome angel duels.

Then we get this nonsense:

The duel was an ancient angelic ritual, one that was considered outdated by modernized Nephilim. For centuries the custom had remained embedded in Russia, however, where the presence of the most powerful Nephilim, those descending from ancient angelic families, resides. Human beings once copied the practice, challenging on another in the name of honor, marking off paces and shooting at close range.

Yes, you got that right. Duels were started because humans were copying an angelic practice. Never mind your pretty little heads that dueling or fighting is a pretty natural reaction to being offended; “You pissed me off, now I’m going to kill you.” No, you see, because angels are so much better than humans, we had to learn from them how to kill each other over insults.

I’m throwing my hands up in the air right now, because Trussoni really doesn’t care. It would be like if I told you in my science fiction book that aliens taught humans how to wipe their arses after taking a dump, because it’s totally not something we’d figure out on our own. Dueling is not rocket science.

Also, aren’t all Nephilim descended from ancient angelic families? They might not be part of aristocratic families, but they’re related if you go back far enough. I might not have the same pedigree as the Queen of England, but that doesn’t change the fact that we’re the same species and we have ancestors and an old family.

Also, a duel is to the death. In case you didn’t know.

A duel between angels was theoretically a confrontation to the death. Only one of the angels would make it out alive.

[walks away from desk to bookshelf]

[pulls out first edition copy of The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan]

[flips open]

“What do they say, these days, Grover? Do the children say, ‘Well, duh!’?”

“Y-yes, Mr. D.”

“Then, well duh!”

[slides book back onto shelf]

I think my point is clear.

Evangeline and Eno start their fight, and Evangeline actually does a lot better than expected, in that she puts up a fight and doesn’t die immediately. The fight actually sounds kind of interesting—I lose track of the movement, but I understand it’s hard to write a battle between two flying creatures, so I’m not docking any points for it.

It’s noted that Evangeline is powerful enough to end Eno, but doesn’t—which I think is interesting. It’s a bit of character development that doesn’t really go anywhere, but it’s nice. Evangeline doesn’t want to be like Eno, someone who is comfortable with killing and violence. She’d rather be someone who didn’t have to live that kind of lifestyle.

Except in the conversation with Verlaine a couple of chapters ago, she admitted to killing a Giborrim, and she did let that one other angel hybrid die in her place to avoid being assassinated. And the last book ended with her killing Percival Grigori. But in this moment, she refuses to kill.

Anyhoo, when Evangeline gets the upper hand, Verlaine expects her to take out Eno and end the fight, but instead she submits and lets herself be captured rather than become a creature of (more) violence.

Why?

This text is acting like she’s being noble by rejecting the life of a killer, forgetting that she’s already killed before. And okay, I can fully understand that she doesn’t want to kill Eno right now. That’s fine. But there’s a huge difference between choosing not to kill someone and letting them capture or kill you. It’s as if she never considered that she could just knock out Eno and then fly away. Yeah, it would suck to be on the run, but you wouldn’t be killed by Eno.

You’ve got wings, Evangeline! Use them!

Like, you know those episodes of Supernatural where Castiel seemingly forgets he’s an angel (a seraph, actually), and doesn’t teleport or smite anyone when it’d obviously be so much easier to do so? Yeah, I suspect Evangeline is like that all the time.

Eno captures Evangeline and—wait, what? Captures? If Eno had orders to capture Evangeline, why did she kill the person she thought was Evangeline in the beginning? Eno’s a killer; we’ve been told this multiple times. Why is Evangeline getting captured instead?

None of this makes any sense! Why aren’t any of you acting like sane people?!

Bruno pulls out his angel-stun-gun, and Verlaine begs him not to hit Evangeline, who Bruno recognizes and has no reaction to despite that as far as he knew, Evangeline was dead and was human. Bruno says he’s not going to take down Evangeline, but they just kind of watch as Eno flies off with Evangeline in tow.

That’s right! They have done absolutely nothing in this chapter.

Verlaine insists they go after them. And we get this:

“It’s useless to try to track Eno in Paris,” Bruno said, as he walked to the edge of the roof and began to climb down to the balcony. “If we want to capture her, we’ll have to hunt her on her own territory.”

THAT MAKES.

NO.

SENSE.

This city, which Eno hates being in because it’s supposedly crawling with angel hunters. You can’t track her here. In order to track her, you’re going to go to where she hangs out. Where she has God knows how many hideouts and allies.

Let me repeat: you are going to hunt a hostile enemy on her own turf.

Whatever. Let’s take a break, since that’s the last line of the chapter, and of part one. Part two, labeled “The Second Circle: LUST” begins next time. For now, I’m out:

Tagged as: , ,

Comment

  1. swenson on 11 September 2014, 08:46 said:

    I can’t believe I died for this war.

    cough Anyway. This book really doesn’t make any sense. You’re right, the characters seem to change their personalities about every other paragraph, and nothing makes logical sense. I really dislike books like this… sometimes you can ignore it while you’re reading them, if they’re written engagingly enough, but this book truly doesn’t seem to hang together at all.

  2. lilyWhite on 11 September 2014, 11:58 said:

    A duel between angels was theoretically a confrontation to the death.

    And just like that, you instantly remove any sort of suspense for any reader with even the slightest hint of genre savviness.

    I don’t remember if it had been set up that Evangeline had any significant amount of power, but the fact that she has little trouble defeating Eno makes all of the time spent describing (read: telling) Eno’s power and deadliness awfully anti-climatic. Especially when Eno then figures “WTF, I’ll capture this stupid sack who’s too stupid to kill me”.

    But really, hooray for horribly contrived damsel-in-distress-ing!

  3. pug on 11 September 2014, 16:42 said:

    I hope that duel wasn’t meant to be historical in any way or form; which is possible, given how old the angels can be.

    With the Norse holmgang being the most prominent example, an historical duel ended whensoever the victorious party was “satisfied”: ie., if a man is entirely at the mercy of another, the victor can choose, in that moment, whether the humiliation and shame of the niþ was punishment enough, or whether the man had to die in order to truly atone. However, this does not apply if the opponents agreed, beforehand, that the duel ended when, for example, first blood was drawn, or when one cried out for mercy.

    So I guess my question is why a duel has to be fought to the death. That seems impractical.

  4. The Smith of Lie on 11 September 2014, 17:05 said:

    So I guess my question is why a duel has to be fought to the death. That seems impractical.

    Because duels to the death are “kewl” and angels in the book have no real, thought out society beyond “what will look kewl for this scene/chapter?”.

    And I have no problem with Evangeline being stronger than Eno. She’s a protagonist, I can buy that. But that win is actually not very well set up. The example below has minor spoilers.

    In 2nd book of Stormlight Archive one of characters defeats “The Assasin in White”. It is incredibly epic duel. One of the reasons it is so epic, is that we have seen “The Assasin in White” mow through legions of guards and taking out best swordsmen of their generation down (while they are wearing magical power armor and using magical swords). He is a literal one man army. About half of the book before the aforementioned duel he has run in with protagonists and almost murders them all, only luck and sheer determination manage to drive him off. So when he finally goes down the reader is in awe.

    Eno going down? Ok, so what’s for dinner?

  5. Ziggy on 11 September 2014, 20:58 said:

    “And I have no problem with Evangeline being stronger than Eno. She’s a protagonist, I can buy that. But that win is actually not very well set up. The example below has minor spoilers.”

    Isn’t the traditional protagonist of novels like this weaker than the villain? I mean, if the hero can easily overpower the villain at any time, it’s hard to really be too worried during climactic battle scenes. Even superheroes like Superman are put at a disadvantage in some way — a hostage, Kryptonite, etc.

    It’s hard to feel too much awe if Evangeline eventually defeats Eno if we learn early on in the book that she’s not that tough. It would only work if Eno had some sort of advantage that turns the tables and adds suspense.

  6. Juracan on 12 September 2014, 21:18 said:

    You’re right, the characters seem to change their personalities about every other paragraph, and nothing makes logical sense.

    Well it’s like the traits of places and characters change depending on what Trussoni needs to evoke at the moment, rather than what’s consistent. It’s frustrating.

    I really dislike books like this… sometimes you can ignore it while you’re reading them, if they’re written engagingly enough, but this book truly doesn’t seem to hang together at all.

    I can usually just move on with stuff like this if the action is good. This? Not really. There’s less than a handful of actual fights in the series, and they’re not done too well. I mentioned that I gave some room to this one because describing things fighting while flying is difficult, but looking back this fight scene would have worked a lot better if the narration was following, y’know, one of the actual combatants.

    I don’t remember if it had been set up that Evangeline had any significant amount of power, but the fact that she has little trouble defeating Eno makes all of the time spent describing (read: telling) Eno’s power and deadliness awfully anti-climatic. Especially when Eno then figures “WTF, I’ll capture this stupid sack who’s too stupid to kill me”.

    Well… yes and no. Eno can apparently electrify/burn people by touching them. Evangeline, as far as I can tell, has no special powers. The only thing she’s got going for her is that she’s “purer bred”; that is, she’s born from a family descended from a higher ranked angel, I think? Which apparently makes you better than other angels in every way, in both looks and combat prowess? Or something?

    So I guess my question is why a duel has to be fought to the death. That seems impractical.

    I stand corrected on the subject of duels then. But upon bringing up a duel, the reader makes the assumption that one of the combatants is likely to die; here, we have to be told directly that there’s a chance that someone could die. Which, given the setup we already have, should be self-explanatory.

    Eno going down? Ok, so what’s for dinner?

    Pretty much. We haven’t actually seen her in action. As has been pointed out, we’ve seen her described as being a badass killer, but we’ve yet to see her do anything actually badass or killer-ish on-page.

    Isn’t the traditional protagonist of novels like this weaker than the villain?

    In a well-written novel, yes. In novels with Mary Sues and nonsensical plots, not so much.

    It would only work if Eno had some sort of advantage that turns the tables and adds suspense.

    Not really. Honestly, I kind of wonder why Eno is a named character in this book at all.

  7. TMary on 5 January 2017, 19:42 said:

    able to run for miles without breaking a sweat.

    Here’s the thing: Human beings are capable of this. As a matter of fact, we are some of the few creatures that can run for miles, but that is precisely because we do sweat. We can’t run terribly fast in comparison to say, dogs, or horses, or most anything really, but we can keep it up long after most animals would have collapsed from exhaustion.

    Two caveats, however: A) We can only run for miles if we are properly in shape for it, and while Verlaine may have been able to get in the proper shape over ten years, the fact is that he is 43, and if he wasn’t living a healthy suited-for-running lifestyle for much of his life, that might slow him down some. It helps to get fit when you’re young. Also, B) As I said before, we can run for miles because we sweat. Sweating keeps us cool and is a vital part of the running process. We also have to have water to drink – in small sips – and lean but high-energy food to munch on as we run, to replenish our water and our carbs, but that’s beside the point. Point is, if he can run for miles without sweating, then I smell a robot, a vampire, a half-angel, or a Gary Stu.

    And I know, I know, “without breaking a sweat” has become an idiom that means “with little to no effort”, but authors should choose their words carefully, and that includes idioms, so if he’s going to be doing something that requires sweating, than Trussoni should not pick an expression that suggests he doesn’t.

    TL;DR: Go back to the top and read that again, lazybones, you have no attention span. ;)

  8. Juracan on 6 January 2017, 00:06 said:

    ^That this was an idiom didn’t really occur to me, which might mean I’m judging this book too harshly. Either way, it’s pretty weird for Trussoni to suggest that this guy, who was an art student of all things, and is now a middle-aged man, is in tip-top physical shape. I maintain that he’d be better as a researcher than a field agent, but a good chunk of this book is the narration and Bruno squeeing over how “OMGAMAZING” Verlaine’s skillz are.

  9. TMary on 6 January 2017, 18:18 said:

    Ah, it happens to all of us. Once the book gets bad enough, you start criticizing everything. But yeah, it is weird that she suggests he’s all super-fit and whatnot. I can understand him wanting to be in decent shape, but like you say, he should be a researcher, not an agent in the field. This is what happens when you want to have The Main Characters Do Everything.

  10. Juracan on 10 January 2017, 22:11 said:

    I can understand him wanting to be in decent shape, but like you say, he should be a researcher, not an agent in the field. This is what happens when you want to have The Main Characters Do Everything.

    Which is weird—she switched so much from the first book, there’s little reason she couldn’t have just changed to a new character from the get-go. I know she had to make sure it tied into the story of the first novel, but still… it just feels odd.